As Washington County students return to school, some will be wearing masks and some will not. All three districts — Arlington, Blair and Fort Calhoun — elected to start the school year making masks optional.
However, all have left open the possibility that masks may become mandatory should COVID-19 cases, particularly those of the Delta variant, continue to increase.
Masks have been a divisive topic almost from the onset of the pandemic. People are either very willing to use them or dead set against them. Something as simple as wearing or not wearing a mask has become a political issue, when it shouldn't be.
At the Blair Community Schools Board of Education meeting Monday, parents packed the Blair Public Library and Technology Center to ensure that masks remain a choice, citing their liberties and their freedom to care for their child's health as they see fit.
No one wants to wear mask. The school districts don't want to mandate them. But if it's necessary, they will. Each school's return-to-learn plan has to remain fluid as this pandemic is ever changing.
These school administrators and teachers care about these students, too. As does the Three Rivers Public Health Department. Their ultimate goal is to keep kids in school.
To do that, parents, teachers and students need to do what they can to help prevent the spread of the virus. At this time, that means continuing to wash your hands, social distance, stay home if you are sick and, if you are so inclined, wear a mask.
It's important for students to stay in school. It's also important for them to have as normal a school year as possible — something the districts are trying to do. If major changes need to be made to COVID-10 policies, the Arlington, Blair and Fort Calhoun boards of education will give plenty of opportunity for parents to give their opinions.
Until then, be cautious and do your part to have a safe and successful 2021-22 school year.